Mindset moves – from a fixed to a growth mindset
Our mindset is the way we see things, or our attitude to life. And at times it can seem that ours is so very different to everyone else’s. But it’s thought people generally have one of two types: a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. Stanford University psychologist, Carol Dweck, is famous for her ideas on this and how we can cultivate our abilities and intelligence with hard work. So what’s the difference and how can we change our mindset?
Someone with a fixed mindset believes that things like intelligence and ability are innate, predisposed by genes or our environment. A belief that these things are static and can’t be changed. A ‘you get what you’re given’ approach. This mindset can lead to people not taking risks or having new experiences and often feeling the need to prove themselves over and over again.
A growth mindset, on the other hand, is the belief that our intelligence and abilities can be developed with hard work, dedication and effort. It’s a belief that you and more importantly your brain can grow. Neuroplasticity is the science behind growth mindset and the premise is that our brains are like any other muscle in our bodies and can be trained and grown to be a certain way. People with a growth mindset see failures as an opportunity for development and thrive on challenges. It’s about being honest when something is hard, acknowledging imperfections and believing you can grow.
Making the switch
I can definitely hold my hand up and say my mindset has been in the fixed area for much of my life! I have clear memories of not understanding things at school and just not saying anything. Convinced I wasn’t smart enough and pretending I knew what was going on. Oh how much more I would have learned if I asked for help! Hey, I even throw comments like ‘I just don’t get it’ and ‘I can’t code’ around on a regular basis now. But it’s something I’m working on! Carol Dweck also talks about the power of YET. By placing this powerful word after any limiting statement makes a world of difference. I can’t do this.. yet. I haven’t mastered this.. yet.
It’s all about switching your mindset from failures being the endpoint, to them being a platform to learn more and go further. By not prioritising approval from everyone else and therefore sacrificing your potential for growth. It’s enjoying the process over the result and having a purpose. Trying different ways of learning and rewarding actions, not the traits or talents you were born with. And giving yourself TIME to do it.
Instilling it early
It’s so important to instill the concept of a growth mindset at a young age. Not that it can’t be learnt..but why not start early! Letting our kids know they are capable of anything they put their mind to, and with persistence and hard work, they can improve anything they want. It’s ok, and beneficial, to make mistakes, take risks and accept constructive criticism. There are loads of resources out there to help, including Big Life Journal, with journals, kits and printables to teach kids how to have a wider view.
Our kids have just started a new season of athletics, and wow does having a growth mindset come in here. Yes, some kids are born with more athletic ability than others, but it doesn’t mean you can’t train and put in the hard work to improve. I love that the focus in this sport is getting a personal best. Improving each time you do an event and seeing your improvement over time. With two of our kids at each end of the scale, one that has always had a lot of ability (and tries really hard too) and one, not as much natural ability, but who tries her little heart out each and every week. There have definitely been tears as she deals with disappointment, but she has really improved over time, and I believe that is attributed to her mindset.
So next time you think you can’t do something, or something is hard, change your mindset. It will motivate you to keep trying, build your resilience and set you up for future success and achievement and have you living a fulfilled life.